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Some thoughts about working at the MLI
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16186
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2003 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi guys, apologies accepted. Vance in veils is definitely an amusing fantasy. (sorry Vance, if you are out there - nothing personal) You are right Holbrook that I likely do have wayyy too much free time. Smile But, I can't stand watching television.

Through the years I have helped many get jobs around the gulf. Most have been happy - ok, not ecstatic - but I have always tried to give pros and cons. What I have told current applicants to MLI is that it 'used to be' one of the better places, but --- right now things are pretty messy. Fortunately these are men with both Middle East and military experience, so they know the gambles and hassles.

In the last near 20 years that I have been involved in the Gulf, I have noted a definite downturn in the working situation all around there. I was lucky to go there when I did. I taught at both SQU and HCT when they were still relatively new and small. I have many theories, such as the huge increase in number of students to be educated. The expansion in class sizes alone has been awful - from 10 to 15 back then to sometimes classes of 30 in some places.

Come back early just to sign the contracts?? Military bureacracy at its best ---- Are any of the quirks that AMIDEAST may have had starting to look better??

Sad really how good jobs go bad. Do keep the board informed on the latest. It does seem that the major problems are for those of you that are already there, not the newbies. They will just have to deal with disgruntled workmates. (do try to be gentle with them Smile )

VS
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grand fromage



Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 5:01 pm    Post subject: MLI Reply with quote

Guys and Gals, some of these postings are starting to get outright silly, and often laced with so much subjectivity and outdated info, that it is a disservice to people who really rely on us for info. If you have old unresolved issues, there is a place to get them off your chest on this forum once for all (post it in the Job Information Journal, where it stays forever). However, rekindling old and often inaccurate (face it, MLI has moved on since you did!) info. only confuses the uninformed Evil or Very Mad . Additionally, I agree with veiledsentiments that mli_vet is going too far. Get over it-and read your contract so u don't blame others when u get paid 25% of your unused vacation days next time-it's only the worst kept secret at MLI. BTW, if people insist on playing the "guess your identity" game, than people like me will clam up. You must relize that blowing our cover might have consequences for us at MLI! I know this isn't "The Weakest Link", but if it were I have a couple of candidates for "You're the wekaest link; good bye!" Ok, start calling me Martin, Zafar, Lt. Khalid, or maybe I'm the Commander himself. Laughing
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mli_vet



Joined: 11 Jun 2003
Posts: 99

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 7:39 pm    Post subject: Forward, march ! ! ! Reply with quote

Big Cheese, you're very wise. I've had my say and am outta here. Won't try to look under any more veils (sorry, again VS Wink ) or pontificate on the new MLI contract since all I've got now is just a copy of the old one. Some things just don't seem to get outdated though. Gougery is gougery, plain and simple. Even reducing the amount of gougery, changing the form, it's still gougery! Of course I read my contract, just like you did! You've gotta admit though that it's hard at the beginning to fathom just how it might be interpreted/applied. Now if somebody would go ahead and post a copy of the actual contract, at least the sticking points, that would really put all the cards on the table . . . any takers?

All right, nothing more negative. I know you guys need those new hires to arrive early on this summer so y'all can take your vacations. So get on over there all you new recruits in the pipeline. Pack your bags for an ELT experience you'll never forget, within the sociocultural contexts of the UAE Armed Forces. Begin your tour of duty right away so the veterans can take their well-deserved leaves of absence Razz Get a move on, with MLI ! ! ! Forward, march ! ! ! Yameen . . . yameen . . . yameen . . .

Cheers, MLI Chums Very Happy . Hang in there! The reinforcements are on their way!

MLI Vet
Over and Out (for good this time . . . I think)
mli_vet@yahoo.com
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grand fromage



Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 8:45 pm    Post subject: MLI Reply with quote

I feel sorry for you MLI-VET. I hope my stay here won't leave the same scars. Any way, here's a reply to a message someone sent me asking for info. I think it might be useful to others too.

No problem ******; glad to be of help. Regarding apartments/living conditions, everything is up in the air as all new teachers should get 70000 AED for housing. While this sounds like a lot, it's not enough for anything too big in Abu Dhabi. However, if you're willing to live a bit away from downtown, you might even be able to rent a small villa. Since no one has used the option of getting their own housing before, how it will be implemented is unclear. It is also a potential nightmare situation depending on how they house you while you're looking for your place. Normally, other institutions house their new employees in hotels for a week or two while the apartment situation's being sorted out. On the bright side, you will get to choose your own housing, contrary to all of us who were brought to filthy, often roach-infested, but furnished (with hand-me-downs from the previous teacher) apartments. Someone made a posting about this,and it brought back bad memeories Crying or Very sad You will also get a voucher for 30000AED (not cash as most other places) to spend on furniture, but this sounds like another nightmare in the making as nothing in the army that requires paperwork runs smoothly. The first month is always frustrating as you are in limbo till you get your residence visa. If you have a spouse waiting to join you, expect it to take at least 2 months, despite what Martin will tell you! Till you get the visa, you can't do much (get driver's license, buy a car, open a bank account, get loans, etc.). After you get to MLI, you will not be paid till you pass your medical test which takes about a week. You will also get an orientation session that is really useless unless you know nothing about computers. Work normally starts within a month. You will be teamed with 2 other teachers (try to look for compatible partners asap) and probably be given 2 groups (one enlisted and one officers) to teach. The work hours are between 7-2 (7:30-2:30 in the winter months), and there is a night shift, but it's hard to get on that one if you're new. The curriculum is really lame, but a no-brainer and unless you get involved in other things on your own, you will start going brain dead slowly Sad Fortunately, you have a lot of free time on your hands, and a pc on your desk that has fast internet connected to it. How you spend your time is usually up to you, and as long as you don't mess up your teaching, you will be left alone. Well, hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck.
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tefllifer



Joined: 13 Jun 2003
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 8:58 pm    Post subject: MLI Reply with quote

Thanks Big Cheese for some sage comments!
Seems like it's only the discontents who post here - when you realise there are maybe 70 teachers or so in the MLI system, it's obvious that the majority can live with the MLI or rationalise what is going on.
My 'name' is tefllifer - maybe it should be middleeastlifer - this stuff about round trip air tickets is just plain/plane crazy - everywhere (and I mean, everywhere in the ME - tefllifer has been around the block in lotsa ME countries) you get a ticket on entry, a ticket on exit and roundtrips for the middle years.
In the UAE it is standard practice (maybe even law) for people to sponsor their own families. Sometimes family can be a hinderance at the beginning of a contract. This is all explained in interview - and if you are so naive as to believe the timeframe given without question - well, this really says something about YOU.
As for paperwork, well that's a fact of the Middle East. Letters are needed for the tel company, elect. company, a driving license, etc., that's the system, wherever you work.
At other places, you arrive, are put in a hotel for a week, assigned an unfurnished appt., given money to go and furnish it - is that better - when you don't know the city, shops, have a family to worry about and can't find again the appt you have been assigned?
I'm hearing that the MLI contract has improved in a lot of ways - salary (not brilliant, but better), flexibility with housing - so please ignore comments about wives being propositioned - BTW, you need to remember in the UAE that it depends WHo you are, and WHAT you are, and how YOU behave as to whether or not you pass in a crowd - increased school fees (but still totally inadequate in Abu Dhabi).
There was no stampede at the infamous meeting, so it looks like most people are going to try and work around it - people have till end Dec to use up hols and sign the new contract. Yes, 25% is paid for days not used - yes it is pathetic, but it is in the contract - so be it. Guess you can't have your cake and eat it - so what's new about that?
The 10% deduction is history. Good news about an end of service grauitity, but if it's only paid on completion of a 2 year contract - then bad news for some. But again, if you know about it, you can work around it. Rumour has it all places in the UAE are going to change to 2 weeks per year.
Flexibility with leave which MLI offers is great - you can take leave when you want - more or less and the odd couple of days whenever - but, as I understand it, sick leave is tricky to get and there are procedures, but this IS the mili and the mili everywhere has its own way of doing things.
As for the students - well, are UAE male students in other places comparitively wonderful? At least at the mli there is some way of enforcing discipline and reporting students, etc. - other places do not have that facility.
Go on, guys, focus your hatred on the PD Coordinator, all I can say is 'the devil you know...' There are folk who get on with him - a lot of his bad press is heresay and hype - or maybe YOU just can't stand any criticism and are let skin color blind YOUR objectivity?
What about the real new guy who has the top post? Good guy or bad guy? Effective or Useless? On YOUR side or his own? Do you respect HIM? How do you think he views YOU?
Where is this ideal world where the complainers worked before? How come they are EFL teachers who can't read a contract and ask pertinent questions? How come MLI employes are so naive? What are their values - morally, ethically and professionally?
If I were a prospective employe with MLI, the thing that would worry me would be my colleagues from reading this board - what kind of negative, incompetents and ignoramouses they were - not the administration or contract.
Everyone has their own agenda and their own reasons for wanting a Middle East contract - don't make things worse for your ex-colleagues who are locked into mli for whatever reason by scaring off potentially decent colleagues!
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grand fromage



Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 9:35 pm    Post subject: MLI Reply with quote

well-said Tefllifer! I'll only disagree with you on the tpic of PD Coordiator. I resent any one judging him based on his background, and I am aware it was done on this forum in the past. Nevertheless, as a coordinator, he is a total joke. He observes you once a year and spends the rest of the time on pseudo-academic activities that only promote himself, and a few people who choose to take this route. His projects do not benefit teachers directly, and he doesn't consult us about our needs. He is a very controversial figure in TESOL Arabia as well, not being able to get along with others. The T2T conference he organises every year, has to be the biggest joke of our profession. But bottom line, he has no respect for us, choosing to ignore us in the corridors, and often standing us up during appointments. In the "normal" world, he wouldn't have lasted in his position even a month. Oh, did I mention he has the same qualifications we do, and was not too long ago a teacher at MLI himself-how easily we forget!
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 16186
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Tefllifer

Glad that someone there finally came on to verify what some of my friends there had been telling me. I was almost beginning not to believe me. Smile Also glad to hear that the new contract sounds workable and that the holiday news is not as bad as it first sounded. Am I right that the 'come back by August 1' problem disappeared?

I was also confused by this sentence in your post:

"Rumour has it all places in the UAE are going to change to 2 weeks per year. "

What is changing to 2 weeks?

VS
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mli_vet



Joined: 11 Jun 2003
Posts: 99

PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2003 2:39 pm    Post subject: Well said, guys ! ! ! Reply with quote

Well said, guys ! ! ! We don't want to scare off any of those wonderful folks in the pipeline. They will bring a breath of fresh air, new ideas Idea , etc. to MLI (and "other" locations").

Feel sorry for me, eh, Big Cheese ? ! ? Well I feel very sorry for you! Crying or Very sad Sorry that you've had to wait so long for things to improve just a little Exclamation Now that's truly awful. I remember and can almost feel your pain right this instant! Some of us just couldn't wait that long. Don't try to chase me off this board now! The original poster asked for an MLI Vet, so here I am, with the good, and the bad. And I did promise not to try and peek under any more veils, didn't I ? Wink I see we agree in some areas, but as you and I both know, there are still problems, so let's help out the new recruits on the way so they know what they're getting into!

Your idea about posting on the Job Info journal was OK. But I've noticed that this tends to get edited by Dave. And with the new format of these forums, who needs the journal anymore?

BTW--those specifics are pretty good! We need more of this kind of specific info on this board. I'm glad to hear about the housing/furniture allowances. That will be nice. It's really terrible to have to move into a roach infested (Abu Dhabi--Father of the Gazelle!?!? Try 'Abu Cochroach'), stinky used furniture kind of flat. This move should lift some spirits.

Tefllifer, here we go disparaging your colleagues, calling them "negative, incompetents and ignoramouses." You stop that right now! That's not very nice. Bad boy. Very bad! Respect your "colleagues" for the TESOL professionals that they all are (BA,MA, or experienced otherwise), or we'll have to sic the military police on you. Don't let me catch you doing that again, or else . . . seriously, come on man. You're taking things a bit too deeply. Lighten up, relax, take a deep breath, and stop calling people names. This isn't evaluation time, this might rather be called instead an informational type of session to promote continued positive change. And from the new contract specifics, it seems to be working! Great Exclamation Very Happy Exclamation Maybe I should re-apply to see if I can get in on this new contract.

See you in Abu Dhabi, MLI chums! Hang in there! I'm coming in for a piece of that pie! Razz

Well, I'll give it some thought anyway. Rolling Eyes

On second thought, naaaaaah ! ! ! This veteran's done his tour of duty.

MLI Vet
Over and Out
mli_vet@yahoo.com
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grand fromage



Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2003 7:14 am    Post subject: MLI Reply with quote

Actually, MLI_VET sounds like he suffered some irreparable shock wandering the Kafkian halls of GHQ (read his last posting in the other MLI thread). It really has left an open and unhealing wound; so I reiterate my utmost feeling of sympathy. I also appreciate your cocern for me, and it couldn't have been more timely, as an old war-wound is starting to bother me these days Wink

I feel it's time to stop responding to your postings, as it seems like they get your blood boiling; wouldn't want you to end up like that poor MLI cleaner. And I have a feeling you'd want to finish your posting before seeking mediacal help, if the need arose.

Seriously though, he and I represent a typical phenomenon experienced in the ME:everybody's experience is different and it shapes your attitude about this place. However, an ability to see the big picture helps you bounce back from (the ever present) setbacks. I won't bore people here with my bad experiences, and they seem to pale in comparison to the advantages that make me stay here. Believe me, I have not had it easy here either, but I found ways of keeping it all in perspective. If you don't have the ability to keep things balanced, this place is not for you. But isn't that the case for most places where ESL teachers go? So I'll rephrase that: don't teach abroad if you can't see the big picture. Just read the postings on this forum from other parts pf the world-they're riddled with problems. At least in the ME you are compensated beyond your wildest dreams (at least ESL-teacher dreams), and the often not-so-perfect apartment or villa you're given is still worlds better than anything you've ever lived in teaching in Asia, Europe, Africa or maybe even nicer than your old place back home.

Of course a moment comes when this place is too much for everybody, although knowing people who have been here up to 20 years gives some hope. Maybe these people have a better ability to adjust, as I am sure they have the same share of problems as all the rest of us. So all I can hope for is that I find it in myself to keep making up for the BS and lack of what we could call logic as long as possible. Who knows, maybe I'll join the ranks of MLI_VET and bombard you with a one-sided, subjective view of this place. Stay tuned and find out Wink Oh, MLI_VET-over and out.
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mli_vet



Joined: 11 Jun 2003
Posts: 99

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2003 2:30 pm    Post subject: Kafkian/Kafkaesque Reply with quote

Kafkian/Kafkaesque--now that's really apropos! I can see you've been to GHQ, Big Cheese, or at least you've heard about that place. Something else we can pretty much agree on.

Thanks again for your sympathies. As I've mentioned, those bad MLI memories are being erased as my new salary comes in on time. Amazing what being paid without hassles can do for a person's mental equilibrium, isn't it.

No hard feelings, chum. You seem like a pretty decent chap, balanced, easy-going, with a healthy sense of humor. Just what it takes to survive in the ME as we veterans know Wink . Hang in there!

MLI Vet
Over and Out
mli_vet@yahoo.com
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tefllifer



Joined: 13 Jun 2003
Posts: 81

PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2003 5:16 pm    Post subject: Some thoughts on working at the MLI Reply with quote

I know I made some relatively informed comments the other day and I'm glad the discussion calmed down a bit - and I don't think we need any more weird anecdotes (anyone who's been around the Middle East or anywhere has a stack of these - and their own take on them - maybe we need an 'amazing anecdotes forum' - an 'EFL Believe it on Not', Dave), but I feel i should point out that the new MLI contract is still way behind that of other places in the UAE.
Holidays are still less than in other places - 55-60 days in the norm (+ religious hols etc) - and sometimes that excludes the time for the midyear break (at UAEU, I think).
As for school fees - 15,000 per child is way off the mark - someone told me the American School in Abu Dhabi is like 40,000 - so for one child that's 2 salaries gone and for 2 kids it's 4 salaries (if you max out) - who the hell can live with that? So, guess MLI is OK for singles and child-free couples.
The new housing allowance is way below that paid at other places in Abu Dhabi.
The max salary and increments are below those of other UAE places.
The other Higher Ed places still pay a gratuity of a month per year - so why should anyone at MLI be grateful for 14 days/year - which is only payable on completion of 2 full years? I hear the Labor Laws might change to reduce the month's gratuity to 2 weeks universally - but since MLI didn't pay anything for years, it seems unfair.
Sick days are an issue - if you can't get in and prove you are sick and get the paperwork done, you have to take them from annual leave. So, what if your kid is sick?
This new contract was negotiated by Amid East - who are now history - wonder how much those guys actually earnt and what their benefits were! Good job, guys!
This might sound like a total turnaround for me - it's not, previously I just clarified the rumours based on what I heard from my contacts - now, just sitting back and reflecting from my own personal situation, I realise I could never accept their contract - I'd be bankrupt.
And while I'm in this mood - nobody there seems to know who is in charge of what - no announcements have been made - or when and where to find people - and there seems to be a batch of spies (not teachers) interferring all over the place and it sounds like the whole situation could get outta contol sooner rather than later.
And, MLIers, what is the payback required to get this wonderful new contract - have they revealed what extra stuff you have to do to get these peanuts?
Please, no hysteria and 'I told you so's' in answer to this - just cold hard facts.
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mli_vet



Joined: 11 Jun 2003
Posts: 99

PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2003 2:09 pm    Post subject: Informed Indeed Reply with quote

Informed indeed tefliffer Laughing . Much better thiz time to leave out calling your colleaguez a bunch of "negative, incompetentz and ignoramousez."

Could you kindly elaborate further on the sociocultural contextz of TEFLing in the Gulf for uz? Just the factz now. No more talking down or name calling, pleazzzzzzzze Exclamation Exclamation Exclamation

Cheers Very Happy

MLI Vet
Over and Out
mli_vet@yahoo.com

BTW--will you be in Toronto any time soon? Just wondering.
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Tom Cat



Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 11
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2003 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The MLI seems to draw more than the usual amount of ire and I've often thought about why. I've worked military contracts in Saudi and then got to know several MLI folks pretty well while in Abu Dhabi. From what I saw, it was not the newbies to the ME who complained the most. Teachers coming from Asia were generally quite happy to be making so much money. The real griping came from guys who had been in the Gulf a while.

When you work in KSA, especially on a military contract, you are treated pretty well. While there are constant hassles dealing with the Saudi's, you can generally depend on your Lockheed/Raytheon/etc bosses to insulate you from a lot of stuff and to at least not make your work harder. I think the reason why folks were so angry at the AMIDEAST team at MLI was that they violated these expectations.

First, unlike in the usual military job, MLI teachers are direct employees of the UAE military, not AMIDEAST. So if the Emiraties decide to hassle you, the AMIDEAST guys could only stand by and watch. There was also the feeling that they were only concerned about keeping their contract and so wouldn't stick out their necks to protect a teacher.

Second, things were badly organized there and it wasn't all the fault of the Emiraties. The CALL stuff seemed to be always coming and never arriving. And the homebrewed curriculum suffered from a catastrophic lack of direction from the top. There were a lot of really fine teachers there, but their contributions to the project were uncoordinated.

One guy who I do think deserves credit is RM. While he has rather loose ideas about what constitutes acceptable housing, I saw that he really ran himself ragged trying to smooth things out for the newcomers. He's the guy in management who I think really deserved his pay, and respect.

As for what was being said about everyone's favorite person at the MLI, I did get to see some of the relevant social interaction and it definitely wasn't the case of mere resentment of authority. My interpretation of what I saw was that the guy lived with the absolute conviction that his ideas and what he wants in life were the only things that should matter to him or anyone around him. I've been told that even when he was only a lowly teacher, the others didn't want to team-teach with him for that reason.

-Tom
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grand fromage



Joined: 16 Jun 2003
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2003 6:45 pm    Post subject: MLI Reply with quote

Tom, I'm glad there's another voice of reason coming from good ol' MLI. I'm also glad there's someone standing up for RM (I know you're not the only that respects him), but I'll agree with you only to the extent that he means well. Unfortunately, that's not enough. He doesn't know how to admit that he doesn't know an answer to a question and consequently often invents one. As a result, he angers many people (including myself, as you may have guessed by now). If he only could say that he doesn't know and that he would look into it, rather than saying anything that comes to mind. Additionally, he is not one to admit his mistakes, and is adding insult to injury. In my case his mistake contributed to losing half of my salary-that doesn't go away fast. Interesting info on the "popular" guy at MLI too. Did you know that his high social skills have forced him to resign from TESOL Arabia. Apparently, that's what he chose to do over being reprimanded for his unprofessional conduct. He surely tops my list of people to avoid like a plague.
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mli_newbie



Joined: 19 Jul 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2003 12:21 pm    Post subject: And now for the good news???? Reply with quote

Thanks for the interesting discussion which has certainly alarmed more than one MLI newbie shortly to arrive to bolster your ranks. So, given that reinforcements are on their way, can you lighten the mood somewhat and mention some of the nicer things about living in AD. What is the social life like? Is it affordable on the salary? Are there any good clubs, sports clubs, sailing clubs etc. Are the beaches are good? What is life like for the kids? I don't know about the others but I'm in real need of a few good reasons to get on the plane!
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